Friday, October 09, 2009

The Girl From The Valley, Bob Rae and The Road Trip

Come September of 1990 I had long settled in to my academic routine. I was an awful student in University, the scholastic Daniel Cleary, pulling extraordinary marks in high school all the while doing little hard work to get them. When I got to Toronto it soon became clear, to me, that I lacked discipline. I soon fell into a routine very early on, skipping classes, putting off the work I had to do, spending my days and nights wandering the city, checking out record and book shops, eating at cheap diners, chasing women and drinking. Always always drinking.

Despite this I still managed to eke out cees, sometimes sneaking up into the bees when a course engaged my interest a little bit.

Terrible student. My God I pray my kids are like my wife and not like me when it comes to that.
So that September I rolled on out of Sudbury Labour Day weekend after another glorious summer, lean and brown and flush with cash, down the narrow winding highway, through the little towns with long French names, past the reserves, surrounded by granite and spruce and cold water, down past Parry Sound, Georgian Bay somewhere to my right, unseen, looming, and then four lanes finally, give her the gas down past Barrie and through the Holland Marsh, black stinking soil, through farmers’ fields now swallowed up by the suburbs and into the vast engulfing city. One night later I was drinking beer and getting high underneath a black black sky with a girl from the Catholic college, blue blue eyes, long brown hair, black surrounding us, in the distance the raucous party we were escaping, lights and laughter and later, warm sweetness in a dark room, my God.

The next day one of my best friends came down from Sudbury. Late in the summer we had decided to road trip into western Ontario for this week, visiting friends wherever said road might take us. So this night, a Wednesday (how I remember this will become clear in a moment), we kicked things off by getting ploughed in the big city with my gang. The next morning we rose early and unaffected, for the most part, by our previous night. Ah, to be young again! We hit the highway and pulled into Waterloo where we met up with two friends from the Valley who were going to school there. Can’t remember exactly if they were at Waterloo or Laurier or one at each – it’s a little hazy. We began drinking early and had a good one going as we watched in stunned disbelief as Bob Rae, against all odds, became premier of a majority government. Bemused we listened to one of the guys rant that this was it for Ontario and as soon as he finished school the next spring he was out of here. (he kept his word, moving to Thailand and then ending up in the States, where he still remains, even the elevation of Mike Harris and then Stephen Harper failing to budge him from his high dudgeon)

I don’t remember much about that night or the following two nights for that matter except that our little band of merry wanderers included at least two others. My best friend, who was at Laurier, met us that night and then came with us the next day to London and then back to Waterloo on the Saturday. And joining us in London for the last leg was a girl.

She was a tiny perfect French Canadian girl from the Valley, as the area north of Sudbury was called. Her long brown hair was curly and she had a brilliant smile and sparkling eyes and a gymnast’s body, tight and sweet. She was a student in London and joined us there to hang out with her buddies and take part in the festivities, the feminine in a beer drinking, farting, cock comparing, loud boisterous crew of young perverted men, arrogant and on top of the world. There were hints of a relationship just ended and a broken heart but she was joyful and laughing and she filled out our gang and made it perfect. That night in London we started out at another Sudbury house with a bunch of friends and we hit it hard, ending up in some bar somewhere, closing the place, staggering back to crash, reeking of booze and cigarettes and the stale stink of roadtrip.

The next morning we arose from our sleeping bags and couches and tramped down to our cars, us three old friends in one, the folks from the Valley in another and as we wound our way back east along old concession roads (why we did this instead of the 401 I don’t recall) I found that I was falling hard for the girl from the Valley, as I was wont to do in those days. We stopped for breakfast or coffee or some damn thing and I remember ducking my head in the window to catch a glimpse and laughing with her as she sat crosslegged barefoot on the back seat and as we pulled out and followed them I could see her in through the back window of the car in front of us and I had it bad.

That night we stayed in, having a good old fashioned house party, stumbling about drunkenly, raving and roaring and at some point late in the evening we found ourselves alone, an evening of flrting behind us and it became clear that the feelings were mutual and so when all had quieted down we found a dark and silent room and locked the door and shared a sleeping bag, keeping each other warm.

The following three weekends I made the pilgrimage up to London on Friday afternoon, coming back to Toronto on the Sunday. It was nice and easy and the days together laughing and the nights so wonderful and I was over the top and then she was coming to visit me and the night before she was coming she called and that was it. Mysterious but blunt. It was over.

Later I found out that the old flame had returned and had seen the error of his ways and she took up with him again, I certainly don’t blame him and I didn’t blame her either. I was sad but it was a beautiful month, I’ll tell you. It could have been worse. I could have been my buddy who went back to Sudbury, not feeling well, going to the doctor to find that he was suffering from alcohol poisoning after a week of drinking.

Or I could have been Bob Rae. Or, some wags would say, his subjects.

Last night’s game was a fun trip, just like the game last Saturday and the game on Tuesday and like Saturday’s game it ended badly after a wonderful ride.

No wonder Pat Quinn is steamed, they could be in first place in the division at 2-0-1 or 3-0 and instead they have coughed up at least two points and on top of that have given those points to Calgary, who might be 3-1 or 2-1-1 instead of that nice 4-0 they are currently sporting. Even more galling is that it has been the veterans who have made the killer mistakes at the end of each game. Last night they got the guys they wanted out there and they still kacked it up.

We knew there were going to be days like these and at the very least the club is playing an entertaining, no holds barred type of game. A commenter at Lowetide’s said yesterday that the club is playing like those pre 2006 clubs. The bad news is that those clubs always fell short. The good news is that they never left us feeling cheated.

So its going to be one of those years I think. There are going to be times where we’re going to be feel like we’re getting kissed all over by the sweetest most beautiful girl we’ve ever met, outside the world dark and silent, that lovely moment of grace.

But in the end its going to end in heartbreak.
So lets just enjoy the ride, shall we?


Swabbubba said...

This team is better than I thought they were going to be. The captain mkaes me grimace for the most part. And the Iggy thing well I know it is a play but sticking his stick in there and then smiling about it and shit he did to Hemmer. The say he is going to be like Stevie Y but I don't see it. But go Oilers they are playing a pretty solid game right now the points will come but will it be enough.

hunter1909 said...

All those Flames that will be gracing team Canada makes me care less if they win anything in February. The upside is, they're going to be too tired to go far in the playoffs.

Oilers? We're a second rate team, up two notches from last season's fourth rate team.

Quinn still doesn't have a handle on the Oilers yet, but when he does, say after a dozen to twenty games, some of the current players will be gone. The beauty is, that could mean almost any of them.

Intelligence/aptitude tends to be an inherited thing, btw.

Black Dog said...

Hunter - problem is that not a lot happens during the season, at least until the deadline. not these past few years anyways

The good thing is that some of these guys are going to recover some of their value which had fallen to nil after last season.

But I don't think they can make wholesale changes and the problem is that most of the next wave of kids are still in Europe, junior or college. Who can play right now in the AHL who could play for the Oilers? Peckham maybe? Reddox?

So I think it will be a while yet. But they are a fun team to watch at least.

grease trap said...

Christ, McLean. You make me feel grey. Yet another post that sucks the nostalgic bittersweet out of young triumphs and old wounds...

Well done.


picjackson said...

what kind of asshole runs this blog?

Black Dog said...

The finest kind, the kind who eats like kings with kings.

Black Dog said...

Thanks GT.

Krazy Rick said...

Hey BD...
I finally got to watch a whole game last night (saturday) and the boys played a very entertaining game. I love the run and gun but, as I said, defense is going to be a real problem. Looks like they can really "fill the net" though.
The more I see of O'Sullivan, the more I like him.
Hope they keep playing entertaining hockey and keep winning!!
By the way... can we get any more CRAPPY breaks????? Bad bounces every game!!! Damn!!


Deano said...

As has been said, these guys are way fun to watch.

Last night I finally saw the 'promise' in Stone.

MacT used to experiment for the first 20 games. Penner and Gagner on the PK, Pisani @ center etc. (I know Penner is killing penalties this year too.)

Lets see how well they play the 'new' system at the 20 game mark. This is going to get better. The own goals should stop as guys get used to the situations and don't have to 'think' about where they should be. (Time to see if icedragoon's theory about 'smart buggers' holds any water.)

Lowetide is reporting that Chorney may get called up for pressbox duty until Peckham plays into shape.

Scott Reynolds said...

Good stuff Pat. But... when you're talking about "the sweetest most beautiful girl [you've] ever met" that's in the context where you haven't met your wife yet, right? RIGHT?! I point it out both to get you in trouble and as a reminder that it doesn't always end in heartbreak and the ride stays enjoyable to the end.

Black Dog said...

Scott - oh yes, ahem, um ... ;)


But yes, my friend, you are right, at some point it does not end in heartbreak, I certainly can vouch for that.

Black Dog said...

Deano - I really liked Stone's game last night, he does the little things right that's for sure.

KR - part of me thinks they get the breaks they deserve, bad teams seem to get more bad breaks than good ones, right? But you are right, it really has been a phenomenal run of truly bad breaks. Lets hope they even out.

Bruce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce said...

By my count it's 5 of the 13 GA we have done to ourselves one way or another:

-- Phaneuf's blast bounces in off Smid in G1
-- Khabibulin's blunder in G1
-- Jacques scores in own net in G2
-- Langkow's shot bounces in off Strudwick in G3
-- Horcoff scores in own net in G4

Plus there was the shootout goal that Khabibulin dragged over his own goal line, plus the two (2) video reviews that both went against us in that same friggin' game which cost us the tying and winning goals respectively (and both are still debatable in my view).

That is a huge steaming pile of shitty luck in a single 4-game homestand. On the good end we had Grebs' tying goal against Dallas which took a favourable bounce but not too much else that my at-time-selective memory can recall. I don't think Oilers have been getting the run of the posts either.

And we all know that run of luck can't continue, it just can't, even if our players are too fucking stupid to get themselves and their fucking sticks the fuck out of the fucking way.

Not that it's starting to bother me or anything ...

Black Dog said...

Bruce - yep that's true, of course Hemsky and O'Sullivan both hit the post on Saturday, if either had scored that would have been it for the game I think

Its early. I like how the team is playing, their style I mean.

They're competitive. They could be four and oh and fairly reasonable value for that imo.

And a lot of the bad luck is just bad luck. And Horcoff doesn't make that play 9 times out of 10 (or again likely), he's struggling and he's trying to make things happen when he should not.

So ... conclusion. Things will get better? I'd hope so.

Dennis said...

Pat: I absolutely loved this post. I just started reading it as I was killing time before I went over to my bud's to watch some football.

But I got so into it that I took the time to re-read it and really let it sink in and I felt like I was right there.

Been a long time since I read something that did that.

BTW, when's the last time you heard tell of this french canadian girl? And why couldn't the women of our youth just be straight up and tell the truth?:)

Black Dog said...

Thanks Dennis, I appreciate the kind words. This story has been with me a long time, it had everything wonderful and crazy about what its like to be young - good friends, a lot of alcohol, being on the road and a beautiful girl of course. It was a kick in the head the way it went down but even then I got over it pretty quickly; as I said I realized that I was lucky just to experience what I did.

As for mon amie I have tried to track her on facebook but she is nowhere to be found. After writing this I tried just a straight google and got a whole lot of hits. She has done very well for herself, has her own family and she still looks great.

She's pushing forty herself now and has not changed a bit. Hard to believe its nearly twenty years now.

Black Dog said...

As for the last question, well I wish I could say but the truth is I too was guilty of the same fault. I never made it easy on myself or others when I was breaking it off. Just youth I guess.